When I originally came up with the Year of Pie, making a chicken pot pie was an obvious choice. Except for one serious issue: I’ve already written about a few chicken pies. It’s not that uncommon that I have a general idea without a recipe attached. I took a look at some cookbooks, did a search on the Internet, looked through The Flavor Bible to see what goes with chicken. That last part was a mistake, since just about every savory thing goes with chicken. So I asked Jeff about what kind of chicken pie I should make this time. I should have already known the answer.
The answer, which he arrived at immediately, was to use a biscuit crust because who doesn’t love biscuits? He had a valid point, and I started imagining chicken and vegetables in a peppery milk gravy. A sort of breakfast meets dinner meal. But going through the logistics of how to make it, I remembered the last biscuit crust I’d tried. It was this recipe, which I then adapted into this pie and looking at my recipe, the biscuit crust did not survive the adaptation. Turns out, I kind of hate biscuit crust.
Sigh. Biscuit crust is one of those things that sounds really great until you try to make it, at which point you realize that biscuit dough wants nothing to do with being rolled out. Its sticks to everything. It’s delicious, but that doesn’t mean I want to wrestle with it in order to have dinner. And I don’t want to deal with the rolling-it-out-between-two-pieces-of-plastic-wrap, which is the solution that Gourmet came up with years ago. Nope. Not worth it.
But I was still really into this idea of chicken and biscuits pie. I’m generally into any version of chicken pot pie because 1) pie crust and 2) gravy. And I’m also into the idea of biscuits and milk-gravy, which is sadly mostly available at breakfast time when I’d rather be eating pancakes. I couldn’t give up on a dinner of chicken pie plus biscuits and gravy.
“Can I just put biscuits on top of the pie filling and call it pie,” I asked Jeff, “even if it doesn’t have a bottom crust?” He shrugged and said sure, because he doesn’t worry if it’s still chicken pie even if it doesn’t have a bottom crust. But I worry about stuff like that. As it turns out, I was worrying needlessly because Ina Garten makes her chicken pot pie with only a top crust. And if it’s good enough for Ina, it’s certainly good enough for me. Oh man, it’s good.
I expected the chicken and biscuits pie to be a good idea, but it was really good. Fluffy biscuits, peppery creamy gravy, and only one hour of your time. No unwieldy biscuit wrestling required.
- 2 tbs butter
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 1 lb boneless and skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2 inch pieces
- 1 lb frozen mixed vegetables
- 1 medium onion, halves and thinly sliced
- 3 tbs flour
- 1 cup milk
- Salt and pepper
- ¼ cup chopped parsley (optional, for serving)
- 4 cups all purpose flour, plus more for sprinkling your work surface and hands
- ½ tbs kosher salt
- ½ tbs baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 2 sticks butter, cold and cut into pieces
- 1½ cups milk
- HEAT the butter and oil in a large oven-proof pan (cast-iron or stainless steel are great here) over medium heat. Add the chicken and ½ teaspoon of kosher salt and cook it for about 3-4 minutes, until it's browned on at least one side, but still pink in the middle.
- ADD the sliced onions to the pan and cook them until they become translucent, another 3-4 minutes. Then add the frozen mixed vegetables with an additional ½ tsp kosher salt, and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes, until the vegetables are fully defrosted.
- SPRINKLE the flour over the top of the vegetables and stir until the flour is all dissolved into the pan. Cook it for an additional 1-2 minutes to cook out the flour taste. Then add the milk slowly and continue to stir to ensure there aren't any lumps. Season the pie filling with salt and lots of pepper and turn off the heat.
- PREHEAT the oven to 425F
- COMBINE flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and toss to combine. Add the butter pieces and work it with your fingers until the butter pieces are no bigger than peas.
- ADD the milk and stir gently until it just starts to come together as a dough. If you squeeze a piece in your hand it should hold together well but it doesn't have to be a solid mass.
- TURN OUT the dough onto a floured surface and pat it into a uniform shape that is about ¾ inch thick.
- CUT circles (or any other shape) out of the dough to form individual biscuits, about 2 inches in diameter (or across). You'll probably get have to reshape the scraps once to get about 10 biscuits.
- ARRANGE the biscuits on the prepared filling and stick the whole pan in the oven to bake for 15-18 minutes, until the biscuits are browned on top. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with the parsley (if using), and serve while it's still hot.
This pie is best served hot, although it reheats well and you can keep the leftovers for about a week in the fridge.